#NYMUN17: MUNing Trilingually in Beruwala


“I was scared to answer earlier. Now I have no fear” – the highlights of the NYMUN’17 workshop in Beruwala on a Saturday morning

“I have an answer for the earlier question. I was scared to answer earlier. Now I have no fear. We all have issues in our life. But there is no platform for us to present them. What is usually there is media and professionals like doctors and engineers. But when even they fail to address them – we are left unaddressed – voiceless. MUN sounds like a good platform voice out the issues faced.”


That was probably the highlight of the NYMUN workshop conducted at the Golden Gate International School in Beruwela on Saturday morning. After getting a translation of this young girl’s words – hoping nothing much was lost in translation – I was quite glad I had joined the team with only 3 hours of sleep behind me.


The workshop presented Sri Lanka’s biggest dilemma since independence – communication and dialogue in all three national languages. Luckily, the team was equipped with the right linguistic skills. We all knew Tharaka had no issue transitioning between English and Sinhala. But the star of the workshop was Nuzly who joined us in Beruwala. In a predominantly Tamil speaking audience of local government and international schools, he really got the audience enthused and entertained – I didn’t see the wide yawns so characteristic of MUN workshops back in Colombo. He was really touching the audience’s feelings and simplifying the complexities.


The mood was set by the tactic of not going straight to the boring details of MUN procedure. Instead, they wanted the audience to suggest ones. Below I attempt to present a transcript of the discussion.

Start of Transcript

What’s a global issue you are concerned with? Child rights comes the response.


Tharaka confessing his life’s experiences as usual: “I know what child rights means through what my parents, my friends and my work colleagues think about it. But I don’t know what you think about it. We all think of child rights from a Sri Lankan point of view. The US, Europe, Saudi Arabia have their own views’


The purpose of Model United Nations Conferences’ like NYMUN is to gain perspectives on the different views held by the diverse people of the world on different issues. Its only through such understandings can we find global progress.  MUN is a good platform to gain knowledge on the United Nations and much more.


The youth’s energy has always been misdirected in Sri Lanka. Politicians have used it for their own gain. We need to put this energy in the right direction. To bring the country’s youth to a common platform. So that those from the North and South can understand each other’s views and stop being misdirected.


Let’s take a local issue. Why did we have the issues like in 2014 in Beruwala?

  • Racism
  • Inequality in income and between races
  • Misunderstandings
  • Changes in habits

Comes the responses.


How do we solve these issues?


What is debate?

To get to a common platform and discussing the issues


Insaf’s in national reconciliation mode – “When someone from Kilinochchi meets someone from Tangalle, they understand that they are all similar with similar needs desires and thoughts. This will lead to positive perception of others.


The two hundred of you need to get together and actively seek to solve the local societal issues. We know that if we don’t give a voice to the youth we will have dark chapters in our society – the past is evidence. When people are fighting – we can’t just say ‘ahh they are fighting’. We must solve the contentions together.”


How do we take a decisions, because not everyone will be satisfied? Comes a question from the audience.


Tharaka goes into his grown up self again – “Now in work or life in general we can’t satisfy everyone. The point is to make everyone relatively satisfied.


Take tax hikes – some like it for public services provided – others don’t because it’s their income being reduced. There is one thing we can do, explain to people as to why decisions are being taken and how they are being arrived at – to realize there is some form of logic behind the decision. This can reduce the number of people dissatisfied by the decision. The point is to connect the decision or issues with the local issues they face.


It’s been a delight to hear you all speak up your minds. MUN has a bit of a twist – you can’t just speak your mind – you have to represent a country – Sri Lanka, India or even a small Latin American country like Belize. “


End of Transcript


With that of course Tharaka and Nuzly took the audience through the actual workshop; the usually boring procedures of MUN. Well usually its boring. But not when these two are connecting the procedures to more familiar things and simplifying things such that a 15 year old who has never done MUN can listen without falling asleep.


I wish I had a tripod and enough space on my memory card to record the workshop. Because it’s good learning material for anyone planning on doing MUN trainings outside of Colombo in the future.


The success of the workshop was down to the team that had come together to organize it. I am not talking about the NYMUN team coming down from Colombo. I am referring to the team on the ground in Beruwala, who had put everything together by the time we got there. There weren’t any excuses given about it being a Saturday morning or how hard it is to get schools to come for events. Instead, we had a full house and had to do nothing else than setting up the presentation and yapping away.  So maybe we should get them to train others on how to get a simple but successful workshop together.

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